Sheriff Gary Long is notifying his community of houses to avoid for trick-or-treat
One sheriff’s office in Georgia is taking every precaution to ensure local trick-or-treaters will be safe this Halloween. This year, the office is posting “no trick-or-treat” signs in the yards of registered sex offenders.
The sheriff’s office of Butts County, Georgia, shared a Facebook post about the signs that quickly went viral.
“As Sheriff, there is nothing more important to me than the safety of your children,” the post reads. “This Halloween, my office has placed signs in front of every registered sex offender’s house to notify the public that it’s a house to avoid.”
The message comes directly from Sheriff Gary Long, who tells CBS News his intention isn’t to “humiliate” registered sex offenders in Butts County. He just wants to do what he feels is the duty of the sheriff: informing the public.
“Georgia law forbids registered sex offenders from participating in Halloween, to include decorations on their property,” the Facebook post states. “With the Halloween on the square not taking place this year, I fully expect the neighborhoods to be very active with children trick-or-treating. Make sure to avoid houses which are marked with the attached posted signs in front of their residents. I hope you and your children have a safe and enjoyable Halloween. It is an honor and privilege to serve as your sheriff.”
The sheriff’s office also states the signs are placed in accordance with Georgia Law O.C.G.A. 42-1-12-i(5) which states “the Sheriff shall inform the public of the presence of sexual offenders in each community.”
Sheriff Long tells CBS News there are 54 registered sex offenders in Butts County. He says he’s received a few emails from the offenders saying the signs are an “embarrassment” but that most of them say they understand why they have to be there. “At the end of the day, I don’t care if they do like it or if they don’t like it,” he says. “My job us to ensure the safety of the children and the community and that’s what I’m going to do.”
Many local parents appear to be in favor of the signs, he says. Especially since a large, public trick-or-treat gathering held in the local town square was canceled this year — now more kids will be going house to house.
Long tells CBS he believes there’s a greater chance of children running into safety issues with oncoming traffic than becoming a victim of sexual assault by a repeat offender — but that won’t stop him from placing the signs and getting the word out.
“If, in fact, we had a child that fell victim to a sexual assault, especially by a convicted sex offender, I don’t think I could sleep at night.”